House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants to spend a million bucks investigating the voting snafu on an amendment prohibiting spending on benefits for illegal immigrants in the Agriculture appropriations bill.
Boehner requested the money, which he said could go to outside investigators and staff, in a Friday letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Pelosi, said the letter was being reviewed.
A six-member bipartisan panel investigating the vote could meet as early as next week. They are charged with delivering an interim report by Sept. 30 and a final report by Sept. 15, 2008. Pelosi earlier wrote to Boehner naming the Democratic members of the panel and asked the panel to complete its work by the end of this year.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Chairman Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) met over coffee to discuss the committee, Pence said. Pence said the committee should hold public meetings and take public testimony.
Republican leaders are calling the panel the “Stolen Vote Committee” and have tried to turn the issue into a cause celebre. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) even had pins emblazoned with “215-213” made up and distributed to Republican House Members this week.
Republicans assert a tied 214-214 vote count — rending a defeat — announced by Rep. Mike McNulty (D-N.Y.) was inaccurate and that the motion had in fact passed 215-213 as Republicans changed their votes. Democrats disagreed, arguing their own Members also were changing votes, with a final tally of 212-216. McNulty, the presiding officer at the time, later apologized for prematurely calling the vote.
“We’re investigating the disenfranchising of nearly half of the Members of the House of Representatives and a complete and utter breakdown in the voting process,” said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for Boehner. “We need to make sure that we get to the bottom of this and that it never happens again. ”